BMW i, the sub-brand “Born Electric” that I’ve been flying all over the world to visit in both New York and London had a simultaneous three city simulcast launch of the i3 on Youtube that included Beijing to the aforementioned New York and London to its production.
It was attended by some of the automotive press, though not by one of my favorite EV writers and primary host to one of my favorite weekly video podcasts, Transport Evolved, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield nor by respected EV advocate Chelsea Sexton. Not many of the seven hundred other Active E Electronuts got in with the exception of Tom Moloughney. I am sure Tom did a great job representing the rest of us, as he always does. [Update 4:55pm Pacific – Tom’s i3 blogpost pics]
I was hoping to get to the event, however, after watching it at the wee hours of 5:25 am Pacific time, I’m glad I didn’t. Nothing earth shattering about the announcement. BMW i has done a good job of previously communicating everything else about the car that the big “to do” was really, eh… Or since I’m writing this on the Internet. Meh.
Nikki wrote this on Twitter:
— N. Gordon-Bloomfield (@aminorjourney) July 29, 2013
Frankly, I think that BMW i did fine, considering its cultural roots at BMW. The fact that BMW had the foresight to set up a different sub-brand in BMW i to pursue electrification, etc. is commendable but it still belabors the challenge it faces inherent to its culture (both as a major producer of ICE vehicles AND being German.) Tesla is borne of the Silicon Valley. Tesla does not have the legacy of ICE and decades of automotive culture to shackle itself to. BMW i does. It’s a good start at trying to re-make its parent into the rEVolution. I’ve been relatively happy with the service that I get as an Active E Electronut, but can’t say that I get that much more than being a regular BMW owner.
The holistic approach that BMW i proposes in its 360 Electric program seems intriguing, the GPS that directs a person to take public transportation, or the loaner ICE fleet for longer drives, or any of the other “enhancements” does take into account the concept of having an 80-100 mile EV range vehicle and building upon an external infrastructure to integrate it into. At the end of the day, I’m a Southern California driver, and it still won’t get me out of my car. I want my car to get me from point A to point B and don’t really care to use most of these enhancements. I already run a hybrid garage, so that other stuff sounds cool, but who knows if I’ll end up using it.
I just wonder if this announcement of the i3 is the start of getting Active E Electronuts ignored. It’s been over a week and change since the Active E forum has been operational. And I’m wondering if it’s a sign of things to come. The @BMWiUSA Twitter feed has thanked me for being patient, but seeing that these i3 announcements would’ve been ideal times to have discussions going on in those forums make me wonder whether it’s time for me to join FB and just see what the Active E FB crowd thinks. I’d like to hear what my fellow Electronuts are thinking as well. I see @Acevedo_Airton tweets, but wonder what others are thinking. I’m hoping for a flurry of posts on the blogs of fellow Electronuts, specifically, Mr. BMW, Gerald Belton, with as much BMW experience as he has, I’d like to hear what he thinks of the i3!
As for the presentation itself, it is a tell-tale sign when the production of the i3 launch features a bunch of BMW Board Members that frankly I would not be able to tell from a crowd versus Tesla’s announcements with
Tony Stark Elon Musk. Having been lucky enough to attend the Tesla Model S Battery Swap event (which I suppose I should’ve posted on my blog, but here’s some pictures on Flickr), I can compare the productions head to head and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money flying to the bore that was the early morning announcement of the i3. Twitter and others were abuzz about the Battery Swap event. It was a jeans and nice shirt event with a club-like atmosphere and flair and the i3 event was staged and button down.
All these folks comparing the i3 with the Model S are missing the point. BMW i should’ve made the aesthetics of the i3 closer to the BMW design and gone after the space abdicated by Tesla abandoning the 40kwh Model S (not counting the Toyota RAV4 EV 2nd Gen as that vehicle here.). The i3 Coupe concept looks sleeker than the regular i3, but they really need better aesthetics for traditional BMW drivers to go for it.
All I have to say is that it was a good thing that I had to take the better half for an early morning flight out of LAX today, otherwise I would be cranky for waking up early for a live simulcast that was a whole lot of “meh”. And I’m a BIG BMW fan!
[The following was added 4:55pm Pacific]
So, it looks like it was a LOT more hands on than the initial presentation that we saw online approximately 12 hours ago.
Now, I’m jealous. Not as jealous as I would’ve been had folks been able to drive the darn cars. But actually check it out and get in and sit in the car as wrll as see the frunk (front trunk) and finally open the back to see the space in the car. It does look spacious, especially compared to the Active E.
Still, the presentation itself still rated the same meh as earlier, but the after presentation stuff ranked higher for me. Especially since the Tesla event only allowed attendees to look, but not touch the Model X.
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